Use repatriation programme to return home, Home Minister tells 600,000 illegals

PUTRAJAYA: Over 600,000 undocumented foreign workers not involved in the Manpower Recalibration Programme (PRTK) are urged to take advantage of the Migrant Repatriation Programme, which comes into effect on Friday (March 1).

Home Minister Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail said they are allowed until the end of this year to return to their home countries without facing legal action and will only be fined for certain offences under the Immigration Act.

"As of noon today, a total of 848 undocumented immigrants have registered to join the Migrant Repatriation Programme," he told a press conference here on Friday.

Saifuddin also reminded foreign nationals not to seek the services of agents but to go to Immigration offices themselves to register and conduct any transactions.

"Do not use any agent services. Forget it. The government will not entertain any requests from them (agents) or third parties," he said.

The recalibration programme is a government initiative that provides an opportunity for foreigners who have overstayed or do not have valid permits.

The Migrant Repatriation Programme, on the other hand, takes effect from Friday until Dec 31, aiming to allow undocumented foreign workers to return to their home countries voluntarily.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin said the remaining quota of formal sector foreign workers via active and levy-paid PRTK, but with Visa with Reference (VDR) not issued by March 31, will be cancelled.

Levy payments for that quota would be refunded to the employers, he added.

"The final date for the entry of new formal sector foreign workers with VDR is on May 31, and there will be no more entry of formal foreign workers from the active quota allowed starting June 1," he said.

He also urged employers to expedite the entry of foreign workers for the PRTK programme, but said they must comply with labour conditions and laws.

Regarding levy improvements, Saifuddin said the government would implement a more employer-friendly levy refund policy, which also comes into effect on Friday.

He said these improvements include reducing the processing time for levy refunds from 53 to 28 days for applications at the approval level of the Immigration director-general.

"The application period at the approval level of the Home Ministry secretary-general is reduced from 77 days to 38 days," he said.

He said employers are also allowed to claim a refund of the levy payment for foreign workers after six months of the Conditional Approval Letter being effective, with the total balance of the foreign worker quota surrendered to the government. – Bernama

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